The hospitality sector has seen a "significant" reduction in the number of EU workers over the last year, dropping from 43.4% of the workforce in the first quarter of 2019 to 39.4% this year.
Figures from software provider Fourth from analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors found that when looking at the number of people starting new jobs in the hospitality sector, in Q1 2021 most were British (54%), followed by EU (35%) and non-EU (11%) nationals.
These numbers have shifted considerably since Q1 2019, where EU workers were the dominant category in terms of new starters over the quarter (49%), followed by British (42%) and non-EU (9%) nationals.
The pub sector saw the biggest decline in EU workers, dropping from 26% in Q1 2019 to 21% in Q1 2021. This was followed by the restaurant sector, dropping from 50% to 47%, and the hotel sector, dropping from 29% to 27%.
Staff aged 18-21 made up just 4.1% of all hours worked in March 2021, compared to 10.2% in March 2019.
The data also shone a light on how the sector is beginning to recover from a workforce standpoint, the size of which grew by 1% in April, the first time there has been growth since before the pandemic.
Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: "It is very encouraging to see recruitment spike across the industry, as the easing of government restrictions allows businesses to reopen. There is clearly pent-up demand from consumers, driven no doubt by the outstanding health and safety measures the industry has implemented.
"As restrictions ease further and indoor trading returns on 17 May, the necessity to recruit will heighten, placing a greater spotlight on the availability of workers. We have been tracking the make-up of the workforce for a number of years, and its reliance on transient workers from European countries has been a prominent feature, particularly in high demand back-of-house roles, such as chefs. Clearly, the pandemic, coupled with new immigration systems post-Brexit, have had a significant impact on the make-up and availability of workers from EU countries within our industry, which will become increasingly prominent as we return to full capacity."
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